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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

16 Aug 1993: De Beer, Zach

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POM     Zach, I came away this morning from interviewing Walter Felgate and no matter what kind of question I put to him there was no room for flexibility in regard to their demands whatsoever. They simply won't do it. The rest of the country can go ahead with elections but if they are left out there will be hell to pay, civil war in one direction and on the other hand he says that if somehow their demands were accommodated that the ANC in Natal would never accept what they would regard as a sell-out by the ANC.

ZDB     If their demands were accommodated?

POM     Were accommodated, the ANC in Natal would feel that the national leadership had sold the ANC in Natal out and you would have there another variation of civil war. In which direction is the country headed?

ZDB     It remains my opinion and that of my advisers, principally the people who represent us at Kempton Park, that Inkatha is pushing its luck. We think Inkatha intends to be part of the new South Africa. If you take their behaviour over the last three or four weeks at its face value the opposite is true. They have raised various wishes, some of which have been met and there is, for example, no doubt that the proposed new constitution is federal. But every time that one of Inkatha's requirements is met they have another one. The ante has gone up and up and I believe that the dangers to South Africa from quite other quarters are so great that we dare not be diverted or even substantially delayed and therefore the talks must press on, the session of parliament must press on, the TEC must be put in place within the next six weeks, or whatever it works out at, and we must go ahead to a new constitution hopefully by the end of the year. And then we must go ahead to an election. It wouldn't concern me if the election were delayed for a month or two after the 27th April as long as that was done by consensus. But beyond that I don't see what concessions we can make to Inkatha now.

POM     If they were to stay outside the process what do you think the consequences would be?

ZDB     Then the test comes when you have the election I presume. If Inkatha stay outside the process that means they don't put up candidates in the election. It means that the ANC presumably sweeps the board in Natal. Then the question is: does Inkatha take up arms in one form or another? They may be taking up arms against a thoroughly legitimate defence force and police force, a brave thing to do. I'm sure that on a local level they could make things very unpleasant indeed.

POM     But only on a local basis?

ZDB     Well I mean in Natal. They could certainly break a few heads, kill a few people in these Reef townships. That's been going on for years.

POM     You say there are threats to South Africa, more serious threats from other quarters?

ZDB     I suppose my tone of voice implied 'more serious', I wasn't sure if I said that. But if we do not get a settlement then the ANC is going to turn on the government, accuse the government of being responsible and you have a conflict situation there over and above what already exists in regard to Inkatha and COSAG, and a failure to move reasonably rapidly towards an election now is going to lead to a complete breakdown of law and order. With that on top of the already unfortunate economic situation you've got dangerous sort of marauding bands just going anywhere and doing what they want to do and massive emigration, capital flight, the whole scenario. I'm not saying that I prophesy that but I think that that is the risk you run if you allow yourself to be held up. After all Inkatha is saying, "No Constituent Assembly under any circumstances", that's just one of the things they said at the weekend. Well everybody else has agreed that there's going to be a Constituent Assembly, so short of 26 delegations grovelling before Inkatha and saying, "You write our decisions for us", what are you to do?

POM     Do you think any of this might have to do with the fact that Buthelezi is afraid to test his support in the field?

ZDB     Well that's certainly one of things that's being said by so many people that you've got to take it fairly seriously. I personally would put it another way. Last time I had a long talk with Inkatha, I can't remember how long ago it was, it was quite a long time, some of my friends and half a dozen Inkatha people, Buthelezi wasn't there, in Durban, we talked all day and very cordially and very pleasantly. As we left I turned to my colleague, Burrows, and I said, "You know Roger, I don't think these people want any change in South Africa at all", and he said, "Yes, I got the same feeling". If you consider it in the light of the Inkatha leadership of the last ten years or so, it has been that they sit in Ulundi, there are no whites in Ulundi other than the ones who work for them. Apartheid caused no troubles in Ulundi. They are all Zulus, they are virtually all traditionalists. They've got a nice House of Parliament, the ministers have pleasant houses. Everybody's got a Mercedes Benz. They've got an aeroplane for flying to Durban when they need to and the cheque rolls in from Pretoria on the 1st of the month. Why should anybody want to change a set up like that?

     But more important than this is that Buthelezi is tremendously hurt and wounded by the fact that, as he sees it, he's been marginalised. He had good reason for a couple of decades to think of himself as the leading black politician in this country. He behaved very well towards Mandela. Buthelezi refused to deal with the government until they let Mandela out. He constantly appealed for Mandela's release. He did all that. And then Mandela came out and ignored him. Not that I think Mandela wanted to personally but that was the way the ANC saw the thing. So Buthelezi is hurt beyond description and not getting to Philadelphia earlier this year was a kind of cherry on the top of hurt.

POM     He's somebody who is constantly sensitive to being insulted. When we interview him that word must crop up more times than any other single word. He takes everything that happens as being personal.

ZDB     The 25 year friendship between him and me came to an end, let me say up front that it was entirely my fault, I in an unguarded moment not realising I was on the record, said, "Gatsha is a very fine fellow but he is the most prickly, hypersensitive person I know", and that got reported on the back page of the Wall Street Journal and he was on it like a knife and I got a seven page fax explaining that he was not prickly or hypersensitive. I grovelled, I rolled in the mud, I apologised in every way I could think of. I've never been any good since.

POM     That's remarkable. I would think a man like that would go to the extreme because he cannot afford not to.

ZDB     Yes. I'm afraid there's something of that in it. I think the bluff has got to be called.

POM     A year ago the right appeared to be demolished, humiliated in the March referendum and very much demoralised. One comes back this year and finds that they've gained a new leader, a new cohesiveness and are at least falling together under one umbrella.

ZDB     When you say they've gained a new leader you're referring to Constand Viljoen?

POM     Yes.

ZDB     First of all when you say they were wiped out a year ago, they were beaten 70/30 and they had 30% of the vote which was actually the same percentage that they got in the general election of 1989. It was their defeat but the party was still there and they still had 35 - 36 members of parliament who get paid a salary for being politicians. And so they gradually licked their wounds, the way we all do after electoral defeats, and they have risen up again. Treurnicht died, didn't he, before the Volksfront? That's an act of God or whatever. Hartzenberg was elected and there was a feeling that Hartzenberg wouldn't do. He's quite a good rough and tumble debater but he hasn't got the aura of a leader about him. Then the COSAG thing was formed (I think this is the chronology), Buthelezi looking for support. The Conservative Party were against the proceedings at Kempton Park for reasons quite different from Buthelezi's. Their starting point is that they will never be on a common roll with people who are not white. The oddest kind of alliance. And then Bophuthatswana and the Ciskei were thrown in for good measure, all the people who saw no need for change, and then somewhere out of that came the Volksfront including the Conservative Party, the AWB and other elements. If I remember correctly the announcement at the Volksfront was that there was dual leadership, co-leadership, of Hartzenberg and Constand Viljoen but since then Constand has had all the limelight as the new leader. Now this is a respected man, he was well thought of as a soldier and I don't have any reason to think that his personal character is tainted in any way, probably perfectly good.

POM     Has he given a kind of respectability to the right?

ZDB     In as far as you can give any respectability to Eugene Terre'Blanche, it's a tall order. Then this episode took place at Kempton Park where they drove the armoured car through the doors and then urinated on the carpets, Viljoen stood around wringing his hands and saying he wished they wouldn't do that. It wasn't a terribly impressive performance. I don't think the right is a very serious factor for the election. They have lost what is called the Afrikaner Volksunie. You know about that? Evidently not. Well five members of parliament

POM     Oh yes.

ZDB     - of the Conservatives broke away under the leadership of Andries Beyers and then they picked up a sixth one I think and they began to form a party and they got a seat at the talks which they still have. Now three of their members of parliament have now resigned, not to go back to the Conservatives as far as I understand. I don't know what they are going to do. But Beyers is hanging on with a very clever fellow called Cehill Pienaar and perhaps one or two others. It's important because what the Volksunie, as opposed to the Volksfront, what the Beyers group said was, "We also want a homeland for Afrikaners but we are practical people. We know we can't have a confederation, we have to go into a federation", which the CP had refused to do. "Secondly, we know we can't have a portion of South Africa in which there will be only whites because there is no such portion. So we will accept the delimitation of the future federation provided there is at least one province where there is a reasonable chance that Afrikaans speaking people may be in the majority at some stage if not now." In other words they opened the door to come into the new South Africa which the Conservative Party resolutely refuses to do. So I think the Conservative Party have put themselves beyond the pale. Their alliance with Buthelezi can't last for ever, it can't last long, most people would say, and then what have they got? They've got 3% or 4% of the electorate.

POM     We're looking then at the Conservative Party marginalising itself. We can turn to the National Party and see almost a collapse in its core of support over the last year I think. One survey said that only one person in four who voted for them in 1989 would have voted them for them today.

ZDB     I would guess that's exaggerated. But we need not fight about this. I wouldn't say the National Party support has collapsed as much as I might like to say it. I would say it has declined, certainly, and the principal reason for this is that the National Party for a very long time has been a party without principles, without a vision, without a real vision. They have survived on a massive patronage operation and now the people see that patronage receding, the Nats are left without any clothes on. Mixing my metaphors a little.

POM     Is it also, do you think, possible that it was bound together with the ideology of apartheid and if you remove that there's nothing they have to put in its place?

ZDB     Yes. What I said about the National Party having no vision applies to the last ten years or so. Prior to that they had a vision, a crazy vision, but the vision was there, the separate development, apartheid.

POM     Now has the Democratic Party been gaining from the travails of the National Party?

ZDB     Not much. Here and there a chap says I used to vote Nat but I'll vote for you now because they're corrupt or because they're something or other. Our gain in membership is almost all from the other side of the colour line.

POM     From blacks?

ZDB     Browns and blacks, browns in particular in the Western Cape. We appear to be just rolling up.

POM     Is that right? What role do you see for the Democratic Party in this new dispensation?

ZDB     Well if we can win 10% of the votes, which we think is on, other people don't, opinion polls don't suggest it, then we're going to get two seats in this new multi-party Cabinet and we're going to get forty seats in parliament. The multi-party Cabinet will presumably have the ANC as its largest component and in the opinion of most people the Nats are the second largest component. If that is the situation and we sit in between the two of them with 10% we think we're in a very valuable bargaining position, a position of influence. We can't run the country ourselves much to our regret. We can't hope for that sort of representation, so this, what I've just described, the 10% scenario, is the best we can hope for.

POM     Now de Klerk has been floating this idea of there being an Executive Committee that would oversee the Cabinet with representation perhaps from parties which received more than 15% of the vote, i.e. cutting it down to themselves, the ANC and perhaps Inkatha or perhaps just themselves and the ANC. Would that kind of arrangement be acceptable to the DP?

ZDB     To the DP? If the Nats and the ANC decided to work it, yes, I don't think we'd try and kick the table over. We simply must accept what honours come our way. Unless we got the 15% then we could insist on our rights. I thought you were going to say would it be acceptable to Mandela and I guess it wouldn't. I'll tell you something strictly off the record, maybe you want to make a note of it, there's a bunch of very nice, well meaning, religious people, I'm not much for religious people but if you've got to have them these are the right kind, who run off the record sort of confidential weekends to which they invite leaders and apparently they are trying very hard to have one with de Klerk, Mandela and Buthelezi and de Klerk agreed, Mandela said it would be easier for him if there one or two other leaders present (so by that back door way I got an invitation). It's relevant to what you're talking about. Mandela does not want to be seen as a partner of de Klerk, still less of Buthelezi. He doesn't mind being seen as one of a bunch of leaders.

POM     When you look at the situation as it was when CODESA collapsed in June and look at the situation today, can you see what were the major compromises or concessions the ANC made and the government made over that period of time to come to their present place?

ZDB     The ANC is easy. The huge concession they made was federation. They had up to that time insisted that federation was wrong in principle, at least for this country, they didn't say it was wrong for America, because they said there was need in this country for such stringent changes that only a very powerful central government could do it and they have conceded that. There may be minor things they have also conceded, my mind just doesn't work very well in that way, I can't just run through the file. Government has dropped that nonsense about a five man Executive Presidency. They have generally piped down about what a year ago or more they were calling power sharing, they're not asking for a guaranteed share of power having done the deal with the ANC on the government of national unity. That's the other major decision the ANC has made, the government of national unity.

POM     That's a concession you think on their part?

ZDB     Oh yes. They must believe that they are going to win enough votes in parliament, enough seats in parliament, to have had a Cabinet on their own. But Mandela told me years ago that he wouldn't try to govern by himself. He said he wanted a partner under all circumstances. I said, "You mean you're not going to take the blame?". He said, "No, I'm not going to take the blame".

POM     To be on your own, I often think the trick is lose the first election. The problems are so huge and expectations are so high that the possibility of them being adequately met is next to zero.

ZDB     Yes, but I think, if I understood your question of a moment ago correctly, both the government and the ANC have to my mind been very willing to concede. A chap who has conceded nothing whatever is your friend Gatsha.

PAT     I want to ask you a question about the government of national unity, if you can clarify this for me. The threshold for getting to Cabinet, if the ANC has a majority does it get to appoint the actual person, say, from the Democratic Party to take the seat or would it operate in a more traditional way of power sharing where the party would say who would have the seat?

ZDB     Again, my memory is not as precise at it should be, but my recollection is that the President will be the leader of the largest party and he in consultation with the leaders of other parties qualified to get into the Cabinet will choose the individuals. What 'in consultation' means, it's one of those politicians phrases.

POM     What struck me as odd was the behaviour of de Klerk in May and June. He came out in an interview with the Financial Times in May saying that power sharing had to be entrenched in a final constitution. Then in June in an interview with the Sunday Times he floated this idea of there being an Executive Committee which would be really himself and Mandela who will, through consensus, oversee the Cabinet and that was it. And then immediately after that the words 'power sharing' were completely dropped from their language and I am wondering, do you know of any metamorphosis?

ZDB     I've not had any information. I agree with your observations. It was like that. I've not been told. But the bilaterals go on all the time and we don't hear about them unless there's either an announcement or a very specific leak and there haven't been many leaks, so I can't tell you why. But de Klerk is much less confident and cocky than he was.

POM     What do you think has accounted for that? He was seen after 1990 in this glowing light of an energetic, decisive, daring leader who took great risks and to the point of where you would almost feel no-one was in control of the government. You feel in a funny way that power has already passed de facto if not de jura.

ZDB     Well we all feel now that we're dealing with a lame duck government, for all kinds of purposes. If you want a dam built they don't know what to do about it. Somebody who was here yesterday for lunch said the Director General of every department is studying his pension position with a view to the most advantageous retirement date. That's the kind of spirit that's abroad in Pretoria. The world is coming to an end. And that may be telling on de Klerk who has really only got his own will power to draw on now, well Roelf Meyer and a few other people. Half the ministers in the Cabinet don't seem to care any more. A French American with whom I had lunch a week or ten days ago raised the familiar comparison between de Klerk and Gorbachev and then he said that the thing about Gorbachev is that he never for one second knew what he was doing. It struck me as one of the cleverer things that has been said! I wouldn't say de Klerk never knows what he's doing but he is beginning to sort of feel his way around a bit.

POM     Some people say that the success of the negotiating process, i.e. the ANC and the government being able to come to really quick agreement on a large number of things, to a considerable degree exists because of the personal chemistry that exists between Roelf Meyer and Cyril Ramaphosa. Do you subscribe to that?

ZDB     Yes, again, I can't go to the damn process myself but relying on Eglin who is a very wise old bird he says that is so. In fact Eglin got up in parliament after Ramaphosa and Meyer went to America together and got Honorary Degrees.

POM     That was at my university. We had them both as the joint commencement speakers.

ZDB     Well a day or two after the event Roelf made his appearance in parliament and Colin was the next speaker up and he said he was pleased to see that "Dr Cyril Meyer" has returned to South Africa. Most of us think that they have struck a remarkable rapport. Not, I think, because they are such very - more than compatible - not because they are personalities who attract each other so much as because Ramaphosa is a professional negotiator and Roelf has developed a good deal of the personality and skills of such a person. They both want to get the job done.

POM     In Boston they both got up when they were giving their addressed and said, "We are friends but we have deep political divisions which we will settle, we will find a way to settle." But to many of the white people in the crowd the idea that Ramaphosa was somehow embracing a white man seemed inimical.

ZDB     That is not rare in South Africa now. In a sense it never was except in the old days it was a bit clandestine, but in every party now except the white right you have white and black people with intense loyalty to each other and intense affection which is easily expressed. There is no problem, but the animosity between the parties is great. I was on a television show which was taped yesterday afternoon for broadcast later and the audience was a youth audience, loosely interpreted anything from 14 to 33 or so, and three quarters of the kids there were black, three quarters of our youth is black, and they had no inhibitions about flinging their arms around my neck. It was rather nice. It's not difficult. But if one of the ANC youngsters comes along, our chaps would hit him, "Get away!".

POM     There appear to be two South Africas at present. South Africa of the World Trade Centre where negotiations are going on and people are committed to trying to find some kind of settlement and then you have the South Africa of the townships, on the Reef, burning with rage and hatred and where it seems that no-one is in control of anything. The ANC is not in control of its cadres, the government is not in control of the police and Buthelezi is not in control of his own warlords or whatever.

ZDB     I think all those are excellent observations. You see the first South Africa you describe at Kempton Park extends much more widely than that. It extends to Mandela going to have lunch at Anglo American at his own request. I just happen to know it took place last week. Leadership in all parties is friendly and gets on well with itself. The PAC leaders are great friends of ours partly because we both have problems with the ANC, but the ANC leaders are also. I was next to Thabo at this thing yesterday and we're old friends and it's very good but Thabo's people beat up my people in Orange Farm the other day.

POM     So it seems in one way that the level of tolerance is increasing as the transition furthers itself?

ZDB     I think anybody who is a leader in any sense of that word desperately desires settlement. We could sit all afternoon with the definition of 'leader' or what I mean by it. I guess I mean a person with responsibility who feels the need to get things to work in the country. Obviously if you're a township kid you've been denied any opportunity to acquire any responsibility and you've got huge resentments that you've got to express somehow. One of the most convenient ways to express them is in political prejudice. It might almost be described as a therapy.

POM     How do you think that the assassination of Chris Hani fitted into this? What effect do you think it has had on, first, the internal politics of the alliance and, second, on the broader political process?

ZDB     I don't think it had any effect on the internal politics of the alliance. I think that the responsible ANC leadership restrained itself magnificently, a few fiery speeches at the funeral and so on, nothing much. And I think the negotiating process went smoothly on. What a lot of people commented on was that de Klerk went quiet for a couple of days after the event and Mandela grabbed centre stage and did all the talking for the whole of South Africa. He handled it beautifully. I don't know what was wrong with de Klerk. It may be that he took the view that this was bound to produce a revolution and he wanted to keep his powder dry. I don't know. But I think we got away with that far better than we feared and I'm almost too old now to have these Technicolor split second memories but I sat in that chair and a chap rang me up and told me what had happened. I really wondered whether it was worth going on at all. In fact nothing very terrible happened.

POM     Here I've got a nice quotation, "The balance of power shifted to the ANC last week. Nelson Mandela, not de Klerk, issued a televised appearance for calm, a tacit admission that only Mandela could prevent the descent into chaos. De Klerk controlled the state, Mandela controlled the nation." What do you think of that?

ZDB     Well something very like that was written in our press at the time.

POM     Do you think that the ANC get concerned about how weak de Klerk is becoming, that in the end he may be not able to deliver his constituency with him?

ZDB     I haven't heard quite that but I have certainly heard ANC people saying, "We have to work with de Klerk", Mandela will say that in private conversation, he says it all the time. And there was a time when I, on a parliamentary matter, think I had de Klerk over a barrel. I had information that de Klerk definitely knew about something which he had denied knowledge of and that is pretty serious in parliamentary terms. I didn't want to go fishing with this because I thought if you tear down the reputation of this man how does the process go on? I happened to see Mandela within a matter of a day or so and I took him aside and said, "Look here I think I owe it to you to tell you this" and I told him what the story was and he said, "You're absolutely right, we need that chap." And I feel rather the same.

POM     Just looking at the violence on the Reef, what strikes me is that the ANC never takes any responsibility for the violence. It's either the security forces, the government or the security forces and the government helping Inkatha but there's never been an open admission, even though Chris Hani last year did say there were a few self defence units out of control, there is no acknowledging that in fact what is going on is a war between supporters of Mandela and supporters of Buthelezi.

ZDB     I have it pretty clearly in my memory that Mandela did on at least one occasion say, "I admit that some of our people are involved in this", but it was said in a playing down kind of way, that here and there we may have an irresponsible chap. Certainly Mandela goes on and on like a gramophone record saying that it's the security forces who are killing our people. He's never produced a shred of evidence. Early on I spoke to him about that too and I said, "I do have parliamentary privilege for what it's worth. You bring me some reasonable evidence which a prudent pater familias can listen to and I'll put it on the record in parliament." And he sent his lawyers who sat here in a row talking to me and in the end the lawyers said, "We haven't got anything that you could really use, we think that this happens". They said, "All you can do is use the published Commission reports" which was what I was already doing.

POM     Do you think this compounds the problem?

ZDB     Yes. The ANC are a tough lot and they are motivated by power more than anything else and Mandela, strange animal, he's one of the most attractive human beings you ever dreamed of in your life, but he's also ruthless, and the easiest way of dealing with this violence from his point of view is to say, "Blame the government". These township kids all want to blame the government and the fact that a few sober side senior people may say, "This isn't really playing the game", just doesn't bother them.

POM     This might be a hard question but who do you think has given the most? I came upon articles in the Weekly Mail of last year with headlines like "NP Strategists Steal the Constitution". Talking to Roelf Meyer I said, "What's the change between what you wanted and what's almost there in the constitution?" He said, "Well we've got just about everything. Our position last year is our position today."

ZDB     Pardon me, that's crap, but it's good Nationalist crap because they want to say to their people, "Look how successfully we've negotiated." This came strongly to the fore during the referendum campaign when de Klerk made whole speeches serialising the things that he had achieved in the negotiations. I think the Nats have given a lot away. It also depends where you think you started from. The Nats started with a rigid control over everything in this country and you look at what they're negotiating for now. But even if you don't say that, if you say they started from where de Klerk had got to by late 1991 when we first got together, the Nats have given away quite a bit. But so, as I expressed, have the ANC. The Nats know that their fortunes are in decline and that the economy is gradually destroying us all and all that, so they know they've got to move quickly. The ANC have got to move quickly in order to deliver some goodies before they start losing support. I'm told they've got a wage bill in their Head Office of two million a month, that's more than I spend a year. They've got to keep that kind of cash flow coming in. So the Nats and the ANC both have the most powerful incentives to settle.

POM     The PAC sits out there, it's in negotiations but it's really not participating in any way in terms of putting forward proposals or things like that. Where do you see their role in a post-transitional South Africa? Are they there to eventually pick up support from the youth wing or from other Africans when a government of national unity simply can't deliver on the expectations of the people?

ZDB     Well that's the most popular hypothesis, yes. The PAC basically hate the ANC, they don't hate us, they don't even hate the Nats that much although they say the Nats are beyond the pale. They take very radical points of view, rather cleverly thought through and presented and they've got some good brains there. Makwetu has no brains at all which is one of the problems. Nice man, good looking and cuddly but he's there purely on seniority and on the fact that his face is black. Gora Ebrahim and Bennie Alexander are probably the cleverest people around but they're not black and there are some others who are clever too. I find it very hard, but plainly if the ANC goes into a government of national unity with the Nats and that government doesn't deliver, the PAC is well positioned to call the ANC a sell-out and that's what they'll do. I think there's a very real question there about finance. For the moment they've got some quite nice offices down at the bottom of town. Makwetu said to me, "God knows how long I can afford these", and they haven't been very effective over the last couple of years, I think partly for that reason. Also of course they lost Dikgang Moseneke, he was very important.

POM     Some people have suggested that that was directly the product of the APLA killings.

ZDB     It may well have had something to do with it but Ernest, as I call him, had told me that he wanted to go back to the Bar. I think his ambition is to be the Chief Justice of South Africa which he may very well be. Good chap. I can't tell you for sure but I hope I haven't just talked rubbish about the PAC.

POM     I can never get a handle on them.

ZDB     No, I haven't got a clear handle on them either.

PAT     Did they benefit from Hani's assassination more than the ANC?

ZDB     Not visibly. The PAC certainly didn't take to the streets saying, "Kill the white man". If they had heaven knows what might have happened. They didn't do it. In some respects they behaved very responsibly but you see this APLA thing never gets answered.

POM     This is the question of is the PAC in control of APLA or is it vice versa. I know that in Northern Ireland the Sinn Fein is the political wing of the IRA but ultimately the IRA makes policy. Sinn Fein couldn't call upon the IRA to renounce violence or to call a cease-fire, they don't have that authority, they don't have the physical authority to do that.

ZDB     It appears that the PAC as I know it, Makwetu, Bennie, Gora and these chaps, I don't think they have the slightest influence on what APLA does but they won't admit they have nothing to do with APLA because they want to be big and strong and people with a private army of their own. Yesterday Gora Ebrahim denied that they had been responsible for St James Church. A couple of other people have claimed responsibility in the name of APLA. Heaven knows.

POM     One thing I sense from last year is that white attitudes have hardened a lot, not for the good.

ZDB     That's generally true. The liberal whites are running very scared and the illiberal whites are cursing and swearing. It's not a very constructive attitude, not altogether to be blamed. Almost every white person has now had an act of violence, usually violent crime, robbery with violence, happen somewhere to a friend or a relation. It's come into their personal lives and, of course, in Cape Town where there's been relatively little violence up to now for obvious reasons, to have this grenade thrown into a church was hell. That really was a tremendous shock to everybody.

POM     So there is, if anything, increasing polarisation between the races?

ZDB     Yes, but the reason I sound a bit hesitant is if you said to me, are more and more whites joining the Conservative Party? They actually aren't. But I think it's because they sense that the conservatives haven't really got a future either.

POM     So they are still searching for a place to go?

ZDB     Whites are frightened, bloody minded, confused. All the well-to-do ones are having a bit of an argument with themselves about emigration.

POM     It's incredible, we've been looking for a house because we're going to spend the better part of the whole year here and we're moving in when those people are moving out. Rents are terrific, there's no problem. Looking at gorgeous houses going at ridiculous rents. The number of FOR SALE signs that are around in all the northern suburbs are really impressive.

ZDB     I've got a secretary, she's been my secretary for so long she's almost like a third daughter, she's now about 38 or 39, she's Dutch by birth, she's been in this country nearly all her life and she's got a Scottish husband who's lived here for 15 or 20 years and they've got one daughter and the immigration roundabout goes on and on and on. She's never actually gone. Last year at the referendum they both decided to take South African citizenship so that they could vote. He actually did but there was some complication about Dutch citizenship in the end Mienke couldn't get it, but Ian went and voted. They're in England at the moment and her parting shot to me was, "Well I don't know whether I'm coming back." She is coming back but this just goes on all the time.

POM     Going back to Buthelezi for a moment. I see that more recently the King has been playing a far more prominent role in the playing of the Zulu card. Many people have said to us that the bond between the Zulu King and the Zulu people is a very deep and committed bond and that even Zulus who are members of the ANC, if the King were to come out and call upon the people to save the nation that some might be quite prepared to forego the ANC and rally to the King. Is that an accurate reflection?

ZDB     I'm no expert on the Zulu people but what you are saying is certainly what one says and what one hears and reads a great deal in this country. I can tell you that when de Klerk first called a summit on violence a couple of years ago, the first violence summit called by de Klerk, the ANC, the alliance didn't come for that reason but Inkatha pitched up with a huge delegation. I think it was technically the government and Inkatha separately, it dominated the whole thing and the King was there and he made a not unimpressive speech in which he said the one thing I cannot do is side with a political party because there are Zulus in every political party. Certainly that I heard for myself and a year or two passes and the other day he has, what do they call it (the missing word is in Zulu and means 'an assembly') and he made a straight Inkatha speech. So Buthelezi has really put the King in his pocket in the meantime. As to what the impact of this is going to be I don't know but on at least this one occasion the King has definitely come off the fence. As I am sure you know, the ANC will tell you this, that Inkatha really has negligible support. They say the ANC are going to walk all over Inkatha in an election. I just keep telling myself that they have been killing each other to the best of their ability for ten years and nobody wins, so in a crude, brutal way that's got to mean they're fairly evenly matched and I think Inkatha will do quite well but if I had to put money on which will get the more votes in Natal I think the ANC will, but I think it will be a close run thing.

POM     Looking at some of the other scenarios we've talked about, could it be that elections would not be held in Natal if Buthelezi says, "I'm out of it", that he can use enough intimidation and violence to make whatever elections are held in Natal meaningless?

ZDB     Well if he does then you've got a civil war at least in one substantial part of South Africa. Natal has got a quarter of the total South African population. If that all goes up in smoke - one will still try to contain it but it's going to be hard.

POM     What I'm getting at is that I have difficulty looking at a situation in which you have a transitional government, an election where violence dies down in the townships. Some of the people living there have said to us that even if there were a settlement tomorrow morning the violence there would continue. It's got so far removed from what goes on at the World Trade Centre and you've got a potential destabilisation situation in Natal that foreign investment is going to wait and see what happens and that  you won't get the inflow of foreign investment that you need to generate a level of growth that would allow per capita income to start rising.

ZDB     There are quite a number of things here in this one question. Let's start with the end. No two investors are going to behave in an identical way. You've got to be careful of broad generalisations. The Digital Equipment Corporation came back the other day. They're here.

POM     I think they closed their factory in Maynard, Massachusetts which employed 40,000 people and 40,000 people were out of a job, and they moved to South Africa?

ZDB     Have they really moved their headquarters? I didn't realise that. Anyway I met the fellow who gave me a great piece and he was doing an under the table deal with the ANC really. The ANC are going to get a cut I think. All I'm saying is there are some investors who will come back with the TEC, perhaps not many. And there are others who will come back with the settlement at Kempton Park. There are others who will come back after an election and there are some after the election also. We still want to watch for a while. The township violence now has a very substantial vendetta element to it and there are local warlords who are fighting for turf and there are protection rackets, everything is there. So, anyone who thinks that violence will be turned off like a tap is mad. The best I can find to say from platforms in answer to questions is that the chance of a subsidence of the violence must surely be better once we've got a political settlement than while we haven't got it. It's a very complex question.

POM     A recurring theme we've heard in the last couple of weeks in the townships is that IFP people will say the police are shooting at us, and the ANC people will say the police are shooting at us. It's almost that they both agree that the police are a factor in all of this. Did Goldstone look into the role of the security forces, not just the police in particular?

ZDB     Goldstone said, "I can't be completely detailed and accurate about the causes of violence but I'm satisfied that a very large portion of the violence is direct fighting between the ANC and the IFP. As regards participation by the security forces I have no proof of this but I keep an open mind." He wasn't prepared to dismiss the allegation and that is pretty much what somebody like me says on political platforms.

POM     So in the next year you think things will more or less keep on track, that the TEC will come into being in the next six weeks or so, that there will be an election and that there will be an interim government and that the country can start sighing a small sigh of relief?

ZDB     By a rather narrow margin that's my favourite scenario.

POM     What's your worst scenario?

ZDB     My worst scenario is that the ANC and the Nats fall out. It could happen. That the ANC then says well there's nothing for it, no matter what they will call mass action which will be a kind of general rampage, criminal elements will all get on their hind legs and the police will almost give up any attempt at maintaining law and order and you'll get an anarchy.

POM     Thank you, as always, for the time.

ZDB     It's a very great pleasure to talk to you. Is this the third or fourth we've done?

POM     Fourth. But my manuscript is due at the publishers in March 1997 so I'm taking 1996 as a cut off date because I want to have a look at the first couple of years.

ZDB     And this will be a major history of South Africa?

POM     Yes, the transition through the voices of the people who were making the decisions about it from year to year and then try to tie that in with an analysis. I also have ten families that range from a rich conservative white family in Zeerust to a poor African family in a squatter camp with every range of income and colour in between. We interview them extensively twice a year, the extended family. In a way they are more fascinating because something is happening to all of their lives in each year that has passed by something significant has happened, a lot of it the result of violence, a lot of it just the result of political change. Except in Zeerust where nothing has changed, where everything is just segregated.

ZDB     Yes, I suppose Zeerust just goes on being much the same as it always was.

POM     De Klerk in Durban last year, in what many people said was the opening salvo in the electioneering, tried to make a case of the similarity between the IFP and the NP in that they both shared a common enemy in the ANC. Do you think that where you have electioneering going on with it's lack of rules or rules and you have negotiations going on with the requirements that are needed to make a success of it, that the two can kind of cross each other?

ZDB     Well this is a new, an additional factor of strain that the success of negotiation depends on intimate co-operation between Cyril and Roelf and for the NP to make any kind of impact on the election results it's got to fight, it's got to wrestle the ANC down. Obviously the temptation to do a deal with Buthelezi has always been there. If you go back to mid-1991 when Inkathagate broke, as the election comes under way the temptation is going to be very strong for the National Party to seek Inkatha's support. But that's another bizarre feature of the Inkatha attitude that Felgate put to you, it's been in the press in the past couple of days, which is really 'nyet' to everything and to hell with the Nats too. It's all part of it. So I don't know. I told you that I am convinced the right thing to do is to be firm with Buthelezi. De Klerk incidentally, not that it's important from your point of view, but in that same speech also said he couldn't understand the attitude of the DP which was so very close to the Nats and yet he spent so much time and energy attacking them. So I shall attack him again tomorrow for doing that!

POM     Anything else that you would like to add?

ZDB     I can't think of anything off hand, but if you're going to be living here ring me up any time.

POM     Yes, sure. Where do we get the house?

PAT     In Cyrildene.

ZDB     Oh that's just across the way. I'm not going to be here a hell of a lot because the head office of our party is in Cape Town and that becomes the nerve centre at election time. So, so far as I'm not travelling I'll be mainly there.

POM     We found a place that was 'politically correct' to live in.

PAT     Our perceptions from the National Party are that some Democratic Party people have defected to the IFP. Do you think if they do go forward and contest elections that their grounding will be among Zulus? I mean a party in your position might be in the same situation, you've got to go to the margins here, the marginal voter, or do you think they go after the Democratic Party, the National Party?

ZDB     As you say they are doing everything. On the one hand they are beating the Zulu nationalist drum, the King is a supreme example of that, but on the other hand they have active white people very committed to them. It all seems to be a little mad but it's probably prejudice on my part. Walter Felgate is a supreme example and they've been working hard among the Indians. I don't think they've got a chance because Buthelezi from time to time when he's crossed says something about, "Remember 1948", which was when the Zulus went in and beat up the Indians. But he's trying everything. I can't tell you much about it. The one fellow we lost to Inkatha was one of our MPs, Mike Tarr. He was a chap I always regarded as very loyal and straightforward, a bit stupid and ox-like but salt of the earth sort of guy and he did it, joined Inkatha and then said it was his duty to come and say it to me. But his opening gambit was, "Zach I want to say to you that if I lived in Cape Town I would not be doing this." We happened to be sitting in Cape Town. And I said, "What do you mean by that?" He said "Because the DP is going to do very well in Cape Town. Natal is a black province and you've got to be on the side of either the ANC or the IFP and I can't be on the ANC side."

PAT     So are these guys taking a gamble on where they are going to be positioned on the list, what they can bring in in terms of money?

POM     Do you see any circumstances in which the election is postponed?

ZDB     I think I told you early on that I think simply in terms of the huge number of small decisions that have to get made at Kempton Park and that have to get drafted into the papers and then approved by parliament, just in that way I no longer really believe in 27th April but I could easily believe in 30th June.

POM     Would that be seen in the ANC's constituency as one more failure on their part?

ZDB     I think if there were a joint announcement by all the negotiators, even possibly with the exception of Inkatha, but Inkatha anyway don't want the election, but if the ANC and the Nats and the rest of us broadly speaking said this thing was taking a little more time than it should do, we're now going to move from the 27th to the 23rd June or something, I don't think that would cause too much of a ripple. Obviously if the decision to postpone was contested by the ANC then you'd be in trouble because then at once the accusation would be the Nats don't propose ever to have an election, have a military clamp down or something and that would be a problem.

POM     It's always amazed me that the National Party accepted a day the week after the first anniversary of Hani's assassination. I would have thought that will be a great symbolic mobilising power to get people to the polls.

ZDB     Well the ANC may well use it, yes.

POM     OK. Thank you.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.